Fourth Day of Lent

Acts 3

In this passage, the first scene after Pentecost, we are introduced to a man who wanted alms as he was lame, little did he know the power of the Risen Christ. The scene opens with a lame man who is no doubt a wise businessman. He was near the Beautiful Gate, outside the temple. He was outside while others were going in; this was true all his life, but that did not stop him from seeking charity from that community.

This day, however, would be profoundly different as he encounters Peter and John. In response to this man’s view of his perceived need, Peter and John ‘look at him’ and then tell him ‘look at us’, there is somewhat of a relational exchange. Peter makes clear “silver and gold they had none but what he had was authority in Jesus of Nazareth’s name to command him to walk” (Acts 3:6). Peter took him by the right hand, helped him up, and immediately the man is healed. He jumps to his feet and starts to walk. This healing changes not only his ability but also his location. He enters the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. The healing moves him from outside to inside the temple, from not able to participate in the  worshipping community to a participant in it.

This story reminds us that as a church we are to see ourselves as being places offering healing to others by including them in the community of faith. This inclusion of the outsiders stands in continuity with the ministry of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Let us reflect on those sitting outside or near the ‘gates’, of our church or society needing to find healing and dignity. Peter and John ‘saw this man’, he did not need to meet any precondition to receiving his healing. It was their own belief that resulted in the healing.

In the name of this Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we offer healing to refugees, those of different socio-economic status, immigrants, the disabled, people of different racial and ethnic background, and sexual orientations albeit the healing needed looks different. Let us not forget how we have come to experience and are experiencing healing. The Rock of the Church, Jesus Christ, took each of us by the right hand, lifted us up while we were sitting on the outside and escorted us into his presence, to help us celebrate this inclusion only by a gift of his grace and not our own will. It is here we understand our mission is not only to make the present condition of those outside our “Beautiful Gates” more bearable but to release here on earth the redemptive work of God, Christ's healing.

Ira Carty
Toronto, ON

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